Title – Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (2019)
Director – Kriv Stenders (Red Dog: True Blue)
Cast – Travis Fimmel, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Bracey, Nicholas Hamilton, Daniel Webber, Stephen Peacocke, Anthony Hayes
Plot – Examines the ANZAC battle of Long Tan that took place during the heat of the Vietnam war and has become renowned as one of the key battles of the war.
“There’s a thousand ways to die in a war zone”
Review by Eddie on 11/03/2020
For an Australian production, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is a technically impressive and large-scale affair examining one of the countries most well known military operations but for all it’s productional virtues, Kriv Stenders war film never completely excels.
A director with a proven track record of solid local offerings such as the beloved Red Dog and solid dramas Boxing Day and Blacktown, Stenders gets one of his largest budgets yet to work with on Danger Close and uses it by unleashing some bullet filled thrills and putting his impressive cast through a fairly unrelenting exercise that doesn’t take much time to breathe in it’s two hour run-time.
Capturing the time and place of the Vietnam war in a proficient, if unsurprising way (just listen to that soundtrack), Stenders doesn’t spend much time or effort establishing a lead up to the films titular battle or the participants acting in it, making sure the features values in the design and execution sense can only ever carry the film to a certain point.
With a fairly mediocre script driving the human drama around endless processions of mortar shelling’s and characters yelling over radios, Danger Close has a tough time connecting us emotionally to the terrible trauma occurring to the ANZAC and Vietnamese soldiers at the time of this confronting battle.
The likes of well respected and talented Australian performers such as Vikings star Travis Fimmel, local identity Richard Roxburgh and Hollywood regular Luke Bracey help add some solid star power to the films extensive cast but despite watchable attempts at portraying real life heroic figures, Danger Close doesn’t allow these various figures much time to grow or surprise as the films bullets and bodies continue to pile up.
The best war films both near and far always maintain a strong sense of human investment around the spectacle the wartime setting provides but Danger Close’s inability to give us anyone to ride alongside with in this fight is a major hindrance to the film’s success, as it fails to inspire or create much of a sense of emotion throughout.
It’s almost as if Stenders and his writing team got caught up in all the bells and whistles afforded to them with such a strong real life event and ample tools at their disposal to bring the story to life on the big screen, that they failed to get the simple things right, evident in the fact Danger Close failed to ignite at the local box office as it came and went with little fanfare upon release.
Final Say –
Some great set pieces and production values get lost in poorly established human drama and repetitive set-ups as Danger Close fails to join the ranks of the great Australian war movies.
2 1/2 smoke grenades out of 5